tv PBS News Hour PBS December 3, 2010 5:30pm-6:30pm PST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehr productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. we have two major stories-- president obama's surprise visit to afghanistan, and the rise in the jobless rate. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, we have a report on the president's four-hour trip, where he addressed troops at bagram air force base. >> lehrer: and we look at what the weak unemployment numbers mean for a recovery. >> brown: plus, paul solman examines the bleak job market for recent college graduates. >> i don't want to seem ungrateful, you know. i just feel like i've devoted years of my life and thousands
of dollars into developing specialized skills that i'm not using. >> lehrer: then, we look at the failed vote of a presidential commission to approve a plan for cutting the deficit. >> we took a big banana and threw it into the gorilla cage and the gorilla has picked it up like they do, they peel it, mash it, play with it. but they will eat some >> brown: david brooks and ruth marcus analyze this week's news. >> lehrer: and we excerpt today's testimony by u.s. military chiefs about the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> opportunity can start anywhere and go everywhere. to help revitalize a neighborhood in massachusetts; restore a historic landmark in harlem; fund a local business in chicago; expand green energy initiatives in seattle.
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this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: president obama talked up military progress on the war front today, but economic progress on the home front was harder to come by. judy woodruff begins our coverage with the commander-in- chief's visit to u.s. troops in afghanistan. >> woodruff: the president arrived unannounced at bagram air field for a visit of a little over four hours, his second trip there since taking office. he was greeted and then briefed by general david petraeus, the overall nato commander in afghanistan, and karl eikenberry, the u.s. ambassador. mr. obama talked with afghan president hamid karzai by phone. u.s. and afghan officials said
bad weather forced them to cancel plans for a face-to-face session in kabul. after visiting with wounded warriors in the base hospital, it was on to a crowd of waiting servicemen and women. >> the president of the united states, our commander in chief president barack obama. ( cheers ) >> woodruff: more than 3,500 u.s. troops stood cheering in a bagram airplane hangar. >> we said we were going to break the taliban's momentum. that's what you're doing-- you're going on the offense. tired of playing defense. targeting their leaders, pushing them out of their strongholds. we will never let this country serve as a safe haven for terrorists who would attack the united states of america again. that will never happen. ( cheers ) >> woodruff: this visit came a year after the president decided to deploy another 30,000 americans to afghanistan, raising the total to 100,000.
>> we could not protect the american people, we could not enjoy the blessings of our liberty without the extraordinary service that each and every one of you perform each and every day. >> woodruff: the trip occurs at a tough moment for already strained afghan-u.s. relations. state department cables leaked by the web site wikileaks this week show american diplomats complaining of rampant corruption at the highest levels of the afghan regime. some critique karzai directly. in one 2009 dispatch, ambassador eikenberry details two contrasting views of the afghan leader. "the first is of a paranoid and weak individual unfamiliar with the basics of nation building," eikenberry says. "the other is that of an ever- shrewd politician who sees himself as a nationalist hero."
an administration review of the overall war situation is due later this month. >> brown: in the meantime, americans got the latest review of the u.s. economic situation today. but the november jobs report fell well short of expectations. the bleak news on jobs came as a jolt to those on the unemployment lines and a surprise to most forecasters. according to today's labor department report, the unemployment rate climbed two- tenths of a percent, to 9.8% in november, a seven-month high. moreover, the rate has now topped 9% for 19 straight months, the longest stretch on record. overall, employers added only 39,000 new jobs last month, far below expectations. bureau of labor statistics commissioner keith hall summed things up at a congressional hearing. >> we've had about 961,000 jobs
this year, which is... which is good. but the job growth just hasn't yet strengthened enough to start lowering the unemployment rate. we're sort of waiting for strong we are going to have to have stronger job growth to start putting people back to work and lowering the unemployment rate. >> brown: it would also take stronger growth to lower the under-employment rate of those working part-time when they want full-time employment. that rate is now at 17%. with the president in afghanistan, the administration's response came from vice-president biden during a meeting at the white house. >> there's no denying that the report is disappointing, because we were, quite frankly, hoping for even stronger job growth. but the bottom line is, and what this tells us and makes absolutely clear is, that while we've made progress creating jobs, it's clearly not enough. >> brown: the subject of the biden meeting was how to restore benefits that began expiring this week for the long-term unemployed, some two million
people. >> extending that support to those hardest hit by this crisis is not only the right thing to do-- not only the right thing to do, which we always have done in similar circumstances-- it is economically necessary for us to do it. >> brown: republicans want agreement to extend the bush-era tax cuts before action on other issues. on the senate floor, minority leader mitch mcconnell said it's up to democrats to make it happen. >> we've now had more consecutive months of 9% unemployment than at any time since the great depression, and democrats would rather play games than do something about it. it should go without saying that americans have had quite enough of this. it's time to get serious. >> brown: it was widely reported today that white house officials and republican leaders are conducting private talks on a deal that could extend both the tax cuts and the jobless benefits. >> lehrer: coming up, we'll have more on the rise in the unemployment rate; and the job prospects for recent
college graduates. plus, today's vote by the deficit commission; the analysis of brooks and marcus; and the "don't ask, don't tell" hearings. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman in our newsroom. >> holman: wall street managed to sha off the jobs report and keep its rally going. the dow jones industrial average gained more than 19 points to close at 11,382. the nasdaq rose 12 points to close at 2,591. for the week, both the dow and the nasdaq gained more than 2%. the u.s. and south korea reached an agreement on the largest trade deal. the u.s. will lift a tariff encorian autos over five years, in turn south korea will allow imports of thousands of american-made cars. the south koreans also agreed to lift a heavy tariff on u.s. beef. wikileaks struggled to stay online today. a u.s. firm that routes online traffic to servers cut off
access to the whistle-blowing web site. it blamed cyber-attacks after wikileaks released u.s. diplomatic documents. the web site then switched to a swiss domain name, with servers in france. but the french government said it would try to shut off that service, as well. the u.s. army has opened a criminal investigation into mishandled burials at arlington national cemetery. that's after eight sets of cremated remains were found in a single grave with a headstone marked "unknown". a report earlier this year found more than 200 graves had been mis-marked. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to jeff. >> brown: and we return to the unemployment story, first with a closer look at today's report and its implications for the long term unemployed. that comes from lisa lynch, dean of the heller school for social and policy management at brandeis university. she's a former chief economist for the labor department. and paul taylor, executive vice president of the pew research center which did a study about the long-term unemployed.
lisa lynch, i'll start with you. how big a surprise was this today and what explained it? >> well, it was huge surprise, jeff. the number that people had in their heads about job growth for this month was between 150 or 160,000 net new jobs and there were some whispers of job growth of over 200,000 jobs. so to see a number of 39,000 jobs added to the economy was discouraging. and even the most pessiism of economies were not coming in with a low number. i mean it was a positive number but just much to small, and much smaller than what people anticipated. not enough to keep pace with way population growth. we should be adding about 120,000 jobs a month just to keep up with the people coming into the labor market. and with 15 million people out of work we really should be seeing job growth numbers of 200, 300, 400,000 a month
in order to begin to make a dent. >> brown: have you had a chance to go through it and look at sectors to figure out where things went so off, so wrong? >> well, we saw much lower job growth in the manufacturing sector. and there we've seen four months of employment declines in the manufacturing sector. in spite of the fact that we've gotten news of increased demand for auto sales and growth in the manufacturing sector overall. but we did not see that in terms of employment. we saw a contraction in the suction sector and the big surprise as we go into the holiday season was contraction in employment in the retail sector. >> and that's even though things at least in the last few days, black friday is the word i'm looking for, so-called black friday looked pretty good, right, but still the jobs number didn't look good? >> that's right.
the employment report is referring to the number of people in employment in the beginning of november. so it may be the case that employers in the retail sector have been a bit more cautious with respect to adding on seasonal workers for the holiday season. and added those workers closer to black friday or cybermonday. but you know, at this time of the year, given the increase in shopping that we have weigh seen of individuals, it would have been expected that we would have seen higher employment in the retail sector. and we just didn't see growth in that sector. we did see growth in health care and we did see growth in restaurants and bars. so people seem to be going out and eating and drinking and they're using health services but we didn't see it in the retail sector. >> brown: paul taylor, you did a study on long-term unemployment. today's numbers would only suggest that those people are going to have an even harder time finding work, right? >> yeah, you know, we're now
three years into the great recession and now the jobless recovery. and what's been most notable about this is yes, the extraordinary high unemployment numbers, but of the currently unemployed about half have been unemployed for six months or more, that is unprecedented, since the bureau of labor statistics have been keeping figures on that previous recessions we didn't even come close to that. we did a survey earlier this year where we look, we did a national sample of unemployed and we graded them, we looked at them by how many months they have been unemployed. when you get to six months or more of unemployment you see very serious impacts on your personal finances, on your career prospects and on your psyche, obviously unemployment is bad at any length. but we see sort of an infliction point. and this is a very personal story about just to throw a few numbers out there. because we asked personal questions. we asked all people who had been unemployed during the
great recession, did it put a stretch on family relations, about nearly half of the long-term unemployed said yes, about 15% fewer of the short term unemployed said yes. have you lost contact with friends. again more than four in ten of the long-term unemployed said yes. have you lost self-respect about four in ten of the long-term unemployed said yes. have you is out professional help for depression or anxiety about one quarter of the long-term unemployed said yes compared to about 10% of those with shorter. >> brown: and presumably people would have to be rethinking their job prospects for the future, not only because of a report like today but longer-term. just rethinking what it is they do or what they might be able to do in the future. >> we asked a question like that. of those who have been unemployed six months or more, seven out of ten said they either changed careers or contemplating changing can careers. we also were able to ask people who had been unemployed for some spell during the great recession who had specifically got
jobs to rate the new jobs they have vis-a-vis the old jobs they lost. well here again, the long-term unemployed who were able to find jobs were much more likely to say the new jobs were not as good as the ones they left and to feel they are overqualified. again it a natural human reaction. are you out of work and will you take whatever you can get. >> there is a bit of a kind of tale of two cities idea here. at least the way i see it. today's report on the one hand it is suggested if you do have a job, a lot of peoplere working harder than ever but then there are all these people that do not have jobs and are not working longer than ever. >> right. i mean for those people that are still in employment, the reality that they're facing is probably more hours. of work. more stressful work. their productivity has been rising. their wages have not been rising. they may have even seen cutbacks in some of their
benefits. their wealth is liss because the value of their home is down. but they are in employment. they have pay coming in. but they are probably hesitant with respect to going out and shopping because they are seeing friends, neighbors, children, family members that are out of work, out of work for an extended period of time, exhausting savings. and as paul described, when long-term unemployed get back into employment, they are in jobs that are going to be paying less on average, 10 to 20% less than what they were earningbefore they lost their job. >> brown: an briefly, that is what you saw in terms of long-term unemployed. >> absolutely. and it is a group, we were able to also look at the demographics of the long-term unemployed. they are similar to the demographics of all unemployed but there are two differences. older adults, blacks and blue-collar workers are most prone to these very long
spells of unemployment. in the case of the blue-collar workers it is probably because they are dealing with structural in addition to cyclical changes in the economy that are affecting their jobs. >> paul taylor and lisa lynch, thank you both very much. >> twhau. >> lehrer: now, the sobering job prospects for young college graduates and how they've changed since the recession. our economics correspondent, paul solman, has the story. it's part of his reporting on "making sense of financial news." >> reporter: david cook got a b.a. in anthropology in 2008. unable to find work in his unable to find work in his native atlanta, earlier this year, he moved his wife and young son to fort collins, colorado, for a government job which looked like a sure thing. but.. >> they said that they were considering hiring college students, local college students to fill the positions as interns for free, so... >> reporter: with a family to support, he set his sights
downward-- fast food manager, car detailer. he finally found work washing trash cans at $9 an hour, part- time. >> i don't want to seem ungrateful, you know, but i just feel like i've devoted years of my life and thousands of dollars into developing specialized skills that i'm not using. >> reporter: we've done stories about unemployment, underemployment. this one's about mal-employment- - the mismatch between college skills and real-world work. andrew sum studies the labor market. >> nearly half of all young college graduates-- i'm talking about b.a. holders 25 and under- - only half of them are working in a job that requires a college degree. the rest of them are working in jobs that either do not require a degree or not working at all. on average, by the way, their salary is 40% less than a
college graduate... that is in a job that requires a college degree. >> reporter: after abigail lunetta got her b.a. in creative writing two years ago, she worked in new orleans as a part- time copy writer, then moved to new york to find a real job. >> i just sort of assumed that i would become an assistant editor somewhere for some publication, and just work my way up. it's definitely no walk in the park. >> reporter: though, actually, given the dog-eat-dog publishing world, walks in the park have become her job. >> i am walking dogs right now to sort of help feed myself while i'm here. >> reporter: through an agency, she gets ten bucks an hour. she bunks for free with friends as the job search goes on. the theme of one surprising interview-- stocks and bondage. >> i looked into the world of dominatrix. ( laughs ) it was kind of like out of a movie, you know. the guy, he was a little rough around the edges. he knew that i had absolutely no
experience whatsoever, but he did say that, to a prostitute, this is pennies. but for a waitress, this is a fortune. >> reporter: we'll spare you more graphic footage about this particular instance of mal-employment and go back to the dogs, to set up lunetta's reaction when told the typical clients would come from wall street. >> i think that would be some kind of karma, that would be like a stress-relief on my part. it's kind of their fault that i'm in this position, so slapping them around might feel pretty good. >> reporter: lunetta was just the second in her family to get a college degree, still a plus for those over 25. their jobless rate is half that of non-graduates. but last month, the jobless rate for older grads topped 5% for the first time in 40 years and for grads under 25, it's 9.5%. rutgers professor carl van horn says abigail lunetta is typical of her generation. >> the advice that they've gotten since they were toddlers
was, "get a college degree and you will have a successful economic future." and i want to emphasize that is still is a better bet than not, but now, it's more difficult to translate that in this particular economy. and of course, the cost of education has gone up so dramatically that many people are facing really significant debts when they are finished. >> reporter: in fact, the debts have been getting harder to pay. between 2000 and 2009, inflation-adjusted earnings for grads with just a bachelor's degree fell by 15%, but public college tuitions rose 63%; private school-- 30%. small wonder most of last year's b.a.s were in debt, owing on average $24,000 upon graduation. evan melillo was a history major who minored in political science and graduated last year, $40,000 in debt. he hoped to land a local
government job after an internship at the town manager's office in sandwich, massachusetts. >> i really had to give up on that after a couple of months because the positions weren't there, and who i'm competing with are far more experienced people than me. >> reporter: melillo finally found temp work moving furniture while becoming certified to teach. >> i went on craigslist and i looked up every tutoring, assistant teacher... i think i applied to a driving school. and so far, i got two emails back. >> reporter: the only job he did land was through a connection at a local charter school-- his ten-year-old sister is a student there. >> unbeknownst to me, my little sister was going into the copying room and asking people if her brother had gotten a job. >> reporter: unable to support himself on the $72 he makes subbing at his sister's school once a week, melillo moved back
into his old room. evan's 22-year-old brother lives with their parents, too. in fact, he's never left, says their mom. >> evan's brother has not been to college and has had just about as much success finding work, making the same amount of money as evan has. >> reporter: so he sees no reason to go to college. so far, all of the grads youve seen went to state schools: david cook to georgia state, abigail lunetta to louisiana state, evan melillo to the university of massachusetts. but these days, even an ivy league degree is no guarantee. >> i've applied for 400 jobs, at least, and probably closer to 500. >> reporter: gowri chandra graduated from brown in 2009, $80,000 in the hole. a comp lit major, she hoped to work with at-risk youths at a non-profit. but 18 months have yet to produce a full-time job. >> everybody says, you know,
don't take it personally. and it's hard to keep that in mind, because it does feel like a personal rejection. >> reporter: chandra's working part-time on e-470 in denver, $10.75 an hour to log license plate numbers from photos of cars that use the toll road. plenty of her brown classmates are mal-employed as well. >> jobs that you don't need a college education for, by any stretch of the imagination. >> reporter: chandra thought the highway job would be stopgap. it's lasted a year, with food stamps needed at times to supplement her part-time income. david cook and his wife-- also a college grad and a part-time waitress-- are still on food stamps; were on welfare for a while, too. >> it's been really emotionally tough for both of us and, psychologically, it's hard to,
you know, be the father and the husband, the man of the family, but not providing for him. >> reporter: and now, the cooks are awaiting the arrival of a second baby. >> i found this job washing trash cans the day before she found out she was pregnant. so at least i was finally able to call family members that i was too embarrassed to talk to before, and tell them the good news, and also that i had found a job, you know. but it's hard to call back home when you feel like you're failing, you know. it's hard to, like, call your grandparents and tell them that you're still not working and, you know, that you're on welfare and stuff like that, you know. there are three degrees in the house. you know, it's... so i'm really grateful to be washing trash cans. >> reporter: grateful to have any job, even if he didn't need a degree in anthropology to get it.
>> brown: and another take on the economy. more than nine months after it was created, today was the day for president obama's bipartisan fiscal commission to put its plan up for a vote. judy woodruff has our report. >> woodruff: 11 of the commission's 18 members supported a blueprint for fiscal austerity offered by the co- chairmen. that was three short of the super-majority needed to trigger an up-or-down vote in congress. still, co-chair erskine bowles, a former clinton white house chief of staff, insisted the commission delivered a wake-up call to the country. >> i think people really believe that this is the moment of truth; that the threat of these deficits are real, the solutions are absolutely going to be painful, there is no way around it, and there is no easy way out.
>> woodruff: republican co-chair alan simpson, a former wyoming senator, had a more colorful view of the outcome. >> we took a big banana and thr it into the gorilla cage, and the gorilla has picked it up, like they do. they peel it, mash it, play with it, but they will eat some. ( laughter ) and that's where we are right now because... and so it is with this. many pieces of this will be digested and nourish this country. >> woodruff: those pieces included recommendations to: raise the retirement age to 68 for full social security benefits by 2050; reduce future increases in social security benefits; and eliminate some tax breaks and curb others, including the child tax credit and mortgage-
interest deduction. in exchange, the plan calls for corporate and individual income tax rates to be simplified and cut. overall, the package would shave nearly $4 billion from the federal budget over the next decade. it won the surprise backing today of a key democrat on the commission, illinois senator dick durbin. another yes vote, north dakota democratic senator kent conrad, said getting 11 votes was an achievement, in view of strong opposition from the left and the right. >> i never thought there was much prospect of getting 14 votes, but we're going to get 11. 11 of 18, by my math, is 60%; in fact, is a little over 60%. so i believe we've crossed an important hurdle here and laid out a plan that will be resurrected, because it must be. >> woodruff: one of the plan's opponents agreed. andy stern is a former president
of the service employees international union. >> the bowles-simpson plan got 60% of the votes. it deserves a vote. you know, whoever made the rule up of 14, we made it up. >> woodruff: in a statement, president obama praised the commission's work without backing any specifics. instead, he said it "underscores that to sustain growth in the medium and long term, we need to face some difficult choices to curb runaway debt." the president said his economic team will consider the proposal in working up a budget for the coming year. >> lehrer: and to the analysis of brooks and marcus-- "new york times" columnist david brooks and "washington post" columnist ruth marcus. mark shields is away tonight. david, erskine bowles, i will not ask you any banana jokes to follow up on simpson but erskine bowles also said that the one thing this commission proves or now sets out is an adult conversation about the
deficit. do you agree? >> i do agree. i think simpsons must save those up over the years. >> lehrer: he writes them down. >> i do think it has had an porn effect. obviously it is to the going to go in effect any time soon but in a number of ways, it expanded everybody time horizon so people are looking over debt problem over more than just five years. second it has had a huge affect on tax reform debate. they really put serious tax reform, sort of looks a little like 1986. and that debate has spread and i think that could come more quickly than people think, thereis a serious debate inside the white house about trying to do tax reform. there are serious moves inside the congress. so that i think was really given a boost. and then finally the cuts that were suggested are the sort of thing we are going to have to do. and actually a little less than we are going to have to do. so the whole debate in washington has changed. whether it will lead to quick legislation, no. but there has been a shift. >> a shift, a change. >> i think there has been a change. erskine bowles said that era
of deficit denial is over. what has been unclear, and i'm feeling a little bit more hopeful about it today is whether the era of actually not just denying but dealing with the deficit has begun. and i think so. i think 11-- i see the glass as kind of 11/14th full or 11/18th depending how you want to merbure the glass. that's a lot. to see three republicans and three democrats elected officials on this commission supporting it, is really something. to see republicans acknowledging yes, taxes, tax revenue will need to go up. is something. >> were you surprised that there were some democrats who supported this, after the initial response was very negative. >> i thought it was very significant and very telling. and for my point of view, very impressive that senator durbin was willing to come out and say something that he described as theoretical,
which is yes, as part of a broader package, raising the retirement age for social security, a very small amount over a very long period of time is acceptable. those are the kind of realistic things. and look, if this was my package, david said that we are going to have to cut more if it was the market's package, we would have to raise more in the way of tax revenue. but it is a better package than the status quo which is really truly not just unsustainable but dangerous. and it's the kind of discussion, it's as adult as we've gotten. >> the case i've tried to make to republicans is you don't like tax increases. i understand that. but it's better than national bankruptcy. it's just less painful. and i'm not sure how many are there. but some are getting there. and to watch, i would say in general, in washington this week, i've gotten a strong sense, if you looked at the senate floor, the house floor there is still a lot of monkey business going on to borrow alan simpson's metaphor. but it just the same old
polarized games. and that, you could take that view. but if you get on the phone and call members, you find movement on a lot of issues like the serious discussions, i mentioned the tax reform movement. there are some serious discussion of budget cuts among the freshman who are coming in who are now in the midof their orientation sessions but also amoung the chairman. >> lehrer: republicans. >> to do serious budget cuts when we get around to that in april and some even health care. some people think nobody wants to revisit health care but there are some ways that is framing. so people are beginning to have fundamental discussions. and so what is happening is more fundamental discussions are happening i would say now about a whole range of domestic policy issues than i have seen happen maybe in a decade. and it's partly because of dramatic election, partly because of a rotten economy. there is all this stuff feeding, people think wow, something big probably has to change. >> before we all start feeling too good, i just
want to interject a discordant note which is okay, it's actually great that we are having this adult discussion. i was very surprised that we got to double digits in terms of the support. at the same time we are having this adult discussion and we're talking about all the painful ways to cut $4 trillion in spending in the next, and reduce the deficit by that amount in the next ten years. we're talking about expending tax cuts that will cost the same amount over the next ten years if that happens. so there is a cognitive desonance and some of the same people are having these discussions and we can't really see both at the same time. >> lehrer: meanwhile, we have the news today, the unemployment news. the unemployment rate went up and not as many jobs are being created as we heard in jeff's piece that are needed to make this thing work. so where, how does that fit in to what people are talking about in washington, trying to work this thing out now? >> well, in the short term it does two things that are,
i don't want to describe high unemployment rate as helpful because obviously it's bad for the nation, it's bad for the unemployed, it's bad for the administration. but it does strengthen the administrations and democrats hand in terms of are you-- before the holiday to extend unemployment benefits, which have expired. it also oddly enough at the same time bolsters republicans hands at it would be a bad idea to let even the upper income tax cuts expire because those two, not particularly effective from my point of view but they do have some stimulative effect. >> lehrer: do agree with that, it helps both arguments? is that a good thing to help both arguments. >> i think in the short term it is i think we are headed toward a deal and the deal is going to be the republicans get their tax-- extending the bush tax cuts on the top and the democrats will get the extended unemployment insurance, that will be the deal. and what i would say is i would hope the president would do am so face-saving by saying okay, we'll do
this deal. we'll extend the top rates for one year or maybe three but in the meantime, we're going to work on some fundamental tax reform and that would be his way of face-saving. but i do think-- i am not-- i do think given where the unemployment rate s there is not a lot we can do in spending terms to address that in the short term. >> lehrer: no more stimulus package. >> that is politically not going happen. being if you did pass it wouldn't affect anything in the next year. >> lehrer: but in the deficit atmosphere there is going to be a stimulus. >> right, so it bucks up bernanke's quantitative easing polls which which is a very controversial policy. maybe it is better to err on the stimulative time as bernanke is doing. and it introduces this two track stming to the budget process. blow a heel in the deficit for at least another year but that makes it more serious that we get serious after that and so again with ruth's qualms, you shouldn't say this is a good thing, lenin said the worse, the better. so in some sense, as things get-- . >> lehrer: i think we will go back to the banana pun.
>> but as things-- this is the bad economy when it should really be getting better, is telling people you got to think seriously, you have to think fundamentally. so i do think it is having a stimulative effect to get people to think more basically about the kind of changes. >> do you agree that this goes beyond some of the things that we're talk approximating about on the surface here, in order to solve this, people have to go beyond what they normally argue about politically when it comes to economics. >> well, i think everybody, this economy keeps disappointing. you think you have turned the corner and then it just disappoints you again. and i feel very nervous about the more i hear serious policymakers talk about their fears, about the economy, the more i thinkering on the side of stimulus. and i think that that message is being conveyed privately to people. and it is a very big risk not to do that.
i also think if you think about the longer term, i'm not talking about many years but just a few years out, boy, if you are the administration and you look at this unemployment rate now and you are looking at what things are going to look like in 2012, it is to the going to be a pretty sight. goldman sachs has projected an unemployment rate and this is before this morning's numbers in 2012. no less than 8.5%. that is a dismal electoral picture. >> lehrer: to run for re-election. >> if you happen to be the president. >> lehrer: yeah. speaking of the president, this was called a segue. the other big news, of course, was the president's visit, surprise visit unannounced visit to afghanistan. what should be made of that? >> well, there is a lot of talk as why is he doing that. did he want to get out of town with the job numbers. but most things are just scheduling. he had an election he was fighting for about thr or four months. then he had all these summits. so i think this was the first time he could get away. and what is interesting about the commitment to
afghanistan is i would say a difference of opinion between those in the pentagon and those in the white house right now. if you polled the average senior brass in the pentagon there is still upbeat feelings about what can be accomplished. i think much less so in the white house right now. and it's good for him to go over there just to get a sense of where we are, to reconcile these two views. >> lehrer: what would you add or subtract? >> it is good forhim to get over there in addition because the troops are there. they, we've been there for a very long time, longer than vietnam, longer than the russians were in afghanistan. >> forget that. we've to you been there longer than most wars, the united states has fought. >> it's quite remarkable and it's a very good message for the command never chief to go and see that that being said this was not really, i agree with david, it was a scheduling issue. this is not really the message that the white house wanted to be conveying now. first of all there was this extraordinarily uncomfortable collision of the wikileaks information
about president karzai with this trip. i don't think that's the reason that this tete-a-tete was cancelled. but it is also true that you don't really want to be reminding people that we have this very difficult situation to deal with a guy runs the country who we are really not that sure about. and second of all, look, on a day where these disappointing unemployment numbers and people want to know that the president is focusing on jobs, jobs, jobs. they don't begrudge him going there but the white house keeps somehow stepping on its jobs message. >> there is a weird thing or an interesting thing that has happened i would say among liberals i would sense in the last couple of of weeks. which is a greater sense of demorallization than even after the election. i think there is a great sense my colleague paul krugman had a column this morning. >> lehrer: he was really down. >> he had a column, this a similar sense they are not playing this-- they are not being very strong. they are not being resolute. you don't get the sense they know what they want.
i get it that he doesn't enjoy being president. i think among the core democratic voter, there is a greater sense of being disheartened, not necessarily afghanistan-related. in the last week or so, than one has seen, even just after the election. >> lehrer: in a word, do you feel the same sense of disheartenment? >> i think there is disheartenment. >> lehrer: among the democrats. >> there is-- the president's kind-of-lost the mojo and, this is the holiday season. he's not going to demonstrate that back and the next really significant point we'll be looking for is the state of the union when he really needs to engage, for example, on the deficit commission. >> lehrer: we now have to disengaging. ruth, good to see you again. thank you, david, thank you both. just to clear up on the deficit-- deficit commission, the plan voted on would cut the deficit with a trillion dollars, with a t over the next ten years.
>> lehrer: finally tonight, senators get some four-star opinions on repealing "don't ask, don't tell." >> brown: the commanders of the armed forces sat side by side at today's hearing, but they split over repealing "don't ask, don't tell" now. the marine corps, army and air force all expressed serious concerns. >> this is a bad time, senator. >> lehrer: a day earlier, their bosses testified before the senate armed services committee. defense secretary gates and admiral mike mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs, fully supported reversing the 1993 policy that's expelled nearly 14,000 service members. they also endorsed pentagon findings that most troops don't seem worried.
but general james amos, commandant of the marine corps, took issue with the timing of the drive to roll back the ban. he pointed to profound concerns in combat units. >> based on what i know about the very tough fight in afghanistan, the almost singular focus of our combat forces as they train up and deploy into theater, the necessary tightly woven culture of those combat forces that we are asking so much of at this time, and, finally, the direct feedback from the survey, my recommendation is that we should not implement repeal at this time. >> lehrer: army chief of staff george casey also advocated putting off any change for now. >> one of the concerns i have is that our captains, our company commanders and first sergeants and midlevel leaders, and officers and noncommissioned officers, have a lot on their plate right now. and this will be another element that will be put on their plate. >> lehrer: but the vice chair of the joint chiefs, marine general
james cartwright, said there's no reason to wait. the commandant of the coast guard and the chief of naval operations, admiral gary roughead, agreed. >> the u.s. navy can implement the necessary changes to policies and procedures, even in a time of war and increasing global commitments. >> lehrer: roughead was asked, as were all the chiefs, if he consulted counterparts in foreign militaries that now permit the open service of gays and lesbians. >> the way that i would characterize the response from those chiefs of navies that have a policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve, the term that i would bring to mind is a "nonevent." >> is a what? >> a nonevent. it just happened, and they got on with things. >> lehrer: all of the military leaders said they think the policy will eventually be reversed. and much like gates and mullen, they said they prefer congress repeal the ban, and give them time to make it work, instead of
having the federal courts order an immediate change. there was some disagreement over trying to phase in repeal at different intervals in different services. >> that would probably be acceptable for us. >> i would suggest that having some differences between implementation timelines within different communities of the armed forces is not a way to proceed. >> lehrer: whether implementation will happen at all is now in doubt. the chance of repealing "don't ask, don't tell" in the lame- duck congress appears slim. >> brown: and again, the other major developments of the day: president obama made a surprise visit to afghanistan and told u.s. troops they're breaking the taliban's momentum; and the u.s. unemployment rate rose to 9.8% in november, as emloyers added just 39,000 jobs. and to kwame holman in our newsroom for what's on the newshour online. kwame. >> holman: paul solman weighs in on today's jobs numbers on his "making sense" page ray suarez checks in from his
reporting trip to cuba and describes getting reacquainted with havana. that's on the "rundown" blog. plus on our politics page, sign up to receive the morning line in your email inbox each weekday. it's your guide to the key political stories to watch on capitol hill and beyond. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. jeff. >> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. on monday, we'll have a conversation with former president jimmy carter. i'm jeffrey brown. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you online, and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> this was me-- best ribs in nelson county. but i wasn't winning any ribbons managing my diabetes. it was so complicated. there was a lot of information out there, but it was frustrating trying to get the
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